The Collector / The Book That Inspired Many A Serial Killer

The Collector | John Fowles

The Collector
The Collector by John Fowles

The Collector

The Collector is the 1963 debut novel by English author John Fowles.

Books can inspire in many ways. Some in ways one might not expect.

Christopher Wilder, a serial killer of eight young women in the early-mid eighties, was found to have The Collector in his possession when he shot himself. Robert Berdella, a serial killer who tortured and killed at least six men in the 1980’s claimed to be inspired by the film version of the novel. Leonard Lake was also a serial killer with over a dozen murders to his name, who was so inspired by, and obsessed with, The Collector that he sought his own potential Miranda’s, deemed “M-Ladies.”


Clegg is obsessed with Miranda Grey, a middle-class art student at the Slade School of Fine Art. He admires her from a distance but is unable to make any contact with her because he lacks social skills. One day, he wins a large prize in the football pools. He quits his job and buys an isolated house in the countryside. He feels lonely, however, and wants to be with Miranda. Unable to make any normal contact, Clegg decides to add her to his “collection” of pretty, petrified objects, in the hope that if he keeps her captive long enough, she will grow to love him.


After careful preparations, Clegg kidnaps Miranda by drugging her with chloroform and locks her up in the cellar of his house. He is convinced that Miranda will start to love him after some time. However, when she wakes up, she confronts him with his actions. Clegg is embarrassed and promises to let her go after a month. He promises to show her “every respect”, pledging not to sexually molest her and to shower her with gifts and the comforts of home, on one condition: she can’t leave the cellar.


The second part of the novel is narrated by Miranda in the form of fragments from a diary that she keeps during her captivity. Miranda reminisces over her previous life throughout this section of the novel; and many of her diary entries are written either to her sister or to a man named G.P., whom she respected and admired as an artist. Miranda reveals that G.P. ultimately fell in love with her and consequently severed all contact with her.


At first, Miranda thinks that Clegg has sexual motives for abducting her, but, as his true character begins to be revealed, she realizes that this is not true. She begins to pity her captor, comparing him to Caliban in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest because of his hopeless obsession with her. Clegg tells Miranda that his first name is Ferdinand (eventual winner of Miranda’s affections in The Tempest).


Miranda tries to escape several times, but Clegg stops her. She also tries to seduce him to convince him to let her go. The only result is that he becomes confused and angry. When Clegg keeps refusing to let her go, she starts to fantasize about killing him. After a failed attempt to do so, Miranda passes through a phase of self-loathing. She decides that, to kill Clegg, would lower her to his level. She refrains from any further attempts to do so. Before she can try to escape again, she becomes seriously ill and dies.


The third part of the novel is narrated by Clegg. At first, he wants to commit suicide after he finds Miranda dead; but, after he reads in her diary that she never loved him, he decides that he is not responsible for what happened to her and is better off without her.

The book ends with his announcement that he plans to kidnap another girl.

The Collector was adapted as a feature film of the same name in 1965.

source: wikipedia